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03/14/10 10:47 - 37ºF - ID#51189

Pi Day

I made a chicken pot pie.
So I have this recipe, which I've never made, for "No-Guilt Chicken Pot Pie", which I copied down off the back of a soup can or something, and it involves both Reduced-Sodium Bisquick and Campbell's Lo-Fat Cream of Chicken Soup. I don't know why you would ever eat something like that; there's no nutrients in it and it's all processed shit. But I copied it down because I like chicken pot pie and didn't have the recipe.
I make chicken pot pie all the time. It finally struck me that I should probably write down, on the page in my cookbook* where I copied over the bullshit recipe, what I actually do, because I just use the bullshit recipe to remind me, but if, say, Z ever wanted to make my actual recipe, he'd be totally confused.
So I did.
And then I did it differently anyway. So I'll write down both versions here, the one I wrote and the one I did.

I like my meals to have a bit of meat and a lot of vegetables. (And a little fat and a bit of starch. They're all good for you.) I am healthier (i.e. my guts don't hate me so much) when I get a reasonable quantity of vegetable matter into my system, so I try to eat a lot of them. However I am so disorganized I always wind up throwing out rotten fresh veggies. So I rely pretty heavily on frozen. Maybe not as nutritious, but at least I'm getting the fiber. So you can vary the veggies you use in here; I'm writing it because of what I generally have on hand.

I made this in a Dutch oven, because I have one. (It was my grandmother's. I got it for Christmas. My mom actually mailed it to me. A cast iron Dutch oven. Yeah it cost more to mail it than it would have to just buy me a new one. But that's OK, this one is HISTORICAL. That's how my family operates.) You could do it in a casserole and make the sauce separately in a saucepan. Um you probably want to read this through before you start making it because I have just had rather a bit of whiskey (OK, 2 oz) and I tend to tell stories instead of write recipes. Not in my book though!! Oh you wish you had my book (it's plaid, which makes it better). But anyway. Maybe I'll publish it someday. Meanwhile you just get my rambly stories about food. Read it through first and write down the highlights and you have a real recipe. I promise.

Heat your oven up to like 400 Fahrenheit. Err on the side of too hot, a little bit. Well, it doesn't matter, you can always turn it up at the end if your biscuits aren't getting golden. More on that later.

Cook 1 large chicken breast. You can microwave it and then cube it, or do what I did and chop it up and stir-fry it in bacon fat or peanut oil or butter or whatever, with half an onion. (A whole onion if you have it is also fine. If you are using already-cooked chicken omit any raw vegetables because they won't get cooked, and just use frozen. The onion's not important, it's a bonus flavor.) You could probably use chicken thighs for this and cut down on how much fat you add, but like nobody carries chicken thighs anymore, it's annoying!!!!! You have to special-request it at the butcher, or get them at Weg's with the bones in, annoying as hell!! So anyway, chicken breast. Or whatever. Ground beef would probably work too, just then it's not chicken pot pie anymore. Tofu might work. Go nuts. It's your pie. And you're probably a grown-up and can do whatever the fuck you want. Enjoy that.

I also added two sticks of celery, chopped fine, and a carrot, diced, and let it all cook until the chicken was done through and the onions were softened. If you have half a green pepper or red pepper that would also be fucking amazing and I wish I had. I didn't, though. No biggie, it was still good. And carrots are good for your eyes and celery is good for your butt. So go for it. I did. It was awesome.

Make sure you have at least 2 Tbsp of fat in there, however you get it. Or, do it the way I wrote down, and cook the chicken separately and make the sauce separately. You just need fat for it to work and I don't understand how these bullshit recipes work without fat. That's no good because you need fat for your neurons. Julia Child told me that.

The bullshit recipe calls for a can of low-fat cream of chicken soup. The written-down recipe calls for my mom's cream sauce:
2 Tbsp fat (butter, bacon grease)
2 Tbsp flour
Melt fat, stir in flour.
Add 1 cup milk. Heat, bring to a boil, stir until thickened. (Lift the stirring spoon; the sauce should coat the back. That's "thickened".)
[You can use this sauce for anything. Apparently it's some posh French "Mother Sauce" thing. I add macaroni noodles, and cheese, and it's mac and cheese, that's all I know.]

I did this over the cooked chicken and onion and carrot and celery, though, because I do my own dishes and don't want extra, thanks. Just stir all your business around in the hot fat, coat it in flour (white or whole wheat, because it's your damn pie, did I mention, and you do whatever the fuck you want), then add milk. Except I used 2 cups of water and 2 chicken buillion cubes, plus about 1/2-3/4 cups of milk, because I was low on milk and had used a bit more flour than I'd meant to so I had a lot of thickener to work with, kinda. (Save some milk for your biscuits! More on that later!) And I wanted a lot of pie!! You need to do what works for the size of your casserole container. Err on a little too little, because if it's overfull it gets everywhere. Life lesson, there.

Once it was thickened I dumped in about 1/2c. frozen corn, 1/2 c. frozen broccoli pieces, and like way too much frozen peas because they'd frozen into a chunk. It was probably like a cup and I didn't mean to use that much. I mean, if it was just me, I'd use like two cups because I love peas. But Z isn't quite such a weirdo so... anyway. But I'd added too much liquid to the sauce so there was a ton of it, so that worked out OK. Basically you want enough solid stuff in there so that it pokes out the top of the sauce and you have... not-soup. So make it full of stuff so you can rest your biscuits on top of the solid stuff. More on that later.

Stir it all around until the veggies are not frozen. Meanwhile! Oh yes, meanwhile. (If you haven't read ahead and are just getting to this and are like oh damn, don't bother letting the veggies defrost: turn off the burner under the cream sauce and the residual heat while you do this next bit will melt them for you. Don't worry.)

Well, this is your later: Biscuits! Or dumplings. I have recipes for both. There is no difference, except that biscuits have a firm dough and dumplings have a sloppy dough. Because biscuits are rolled so they'll be flaky, and then cut out, and dumplings are dropped off a spoon. It doesn't matter one tiny bit. Biscuits are page 8 and dumplings are page 23. OH you don't have my book. Wait, I'll tell you. I'll tell you about dumplings because they're easier to get onto this bitch. And by bitch I mean pie.
Dumplings:
3 Tbsp shortening (which means any fat that's solid at room temperature-- butter, lard, Crisco)
1 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 c milk
optional is a dash of salt
Combine flour and baking powder and maybe salt. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture-- with a pastry cutter or a fork or whatever-- until it's all in little chunks in there. ("Fine crumbs", says my mom's handwriting.) Stir in milk until all is wet. Drop by spoonfuls onto hot meat/vegetables in stew. (This recipe goes with my beef stew recipe which I'll probably share later.)

So anyway, do all that, and then put it onto your pie. Well, put it onto your casserole full of chicken and vegetables and stuff, and that MAKES it into a pie-- see how easy this is? No rolling out pie crust. That's why I went with this kind of pie. I love real pie but pot pie is waaaaay easier.
Spread it into a thin layer with whatever technique you innovate (I sort of stretch it out between a rubber spatula and a wooden spoon, then poke it with my fingers until it's even-ish. Don't worry, it gets baked, the germs get killed, lick your fingers if you want). It doesn't have to be even or perfect, it'll just cook faster if it's thin.

Then put it into your oven that's already hot, don't cover it, and wait about half an hour. Check and see if the biscuits are golden, and if they're not, your oven's not hot enough. So turn it up and do your dishes, and when you're done it'll be hot enough. (Well, I mean the dishes you dirtied making this thing; if you've got a mountain-ola of dishes from all month in there you'll burn the pie so don't.)

Pour yourself a beer, get yourself a big pasta bowl or something, and eat the hell out of that pie. Because it is tasty and it is made out of real food and that is good for you. (This is how I classify things as "health food"-- if I know what it's made out of, and preferably made it myself.)

________________ All good blog entries have a footnote or two.___

  • My cookbook: it is a small blank book in which, in blue ballpoint pen, my mom wrote down a bunch of her favorite & most useful recipes when I was a sophomore in college. In the *mumbledecademumble* since then, I've written down recipes I really like in there. This fucking thing is priceless. But I have to remind myself to keep it updated.
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03/11/10 01:46 - 59ºF - ID#51154

e:enknot made the highlight reel

(e:enknot) was at the roller derby-- I saw him and waved, and he waved back but I'm not sure he knew who I was. At least he seemed confused.

He made the highlight reel, catching a loaf of bread and then giving it to somebody!! How nice.


I also made the highlight reel-- I'm at 1:25ish and 1:58ish, failing and then succeeding to take out an opposing jammer, and the later clip is a replay of the second earlier clip from a different angle. They sent me to the box for a low block on that one, but looking at the footage it looks totally clean to me-- the main contact was my shoulder to her shoulder and my hip to her hip, and so what if I was on one foot at the time?? Hmph. Anyway, I was proud of myself for making the hit, and a little bit proud of getting boxed for it-- previously, in three and a quarter seasons, I've only been to the box once and it was for a really lame penalty, either cutting the track or skating out of bounds or one of those. It was super dull. So it was a little touch of glamor for me to get boxed for a successful jammer hit.

By all accounts I played the best I ever have in this bout, and I was really excited that everything seemed to come together so well. I also hope to repeat the experience later this month, on the 27th, vs. the Dollies. We'll see!!

By the way if anyone's interested in seeing a whole, well-announced, high-level derby bout in its entirety with reasonably good production values, there's some national tournament action archived on the web currently. The national champions, Olympia WA's Oly Rollers, skated against Philadelphia's #6-ranked Liberty Belles in a west-coast tournament last month, and you can watch the whole thing for free if you want to see how my league is *trying* to do it.


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03/10/10 02:38 - 52ºF - ID#51147

Parker Blvd

Oh wow I hadn't realized I capslock-updated this weekend. Sweet. I left little capslock bombs all over the Internet for myself, somewhat drunkenly.

Anyway, what I came here to say is that Parker Blvd. in Tonawanda is full of crazy people. It's one of those lane-and-a-half in each direction roads, with parking in that half lane intermittently. Speed limit is like 30, and there are stop signs every like two blocks.
I go down this road every day, and I generally go as fast as 35 in the blocks with no stop sign, then cruise up and stop at the signs. It's reasonable. Sometimes you get assholes who don't have anywhere to be and just roll down the whole street at 15 miles per. What can ya do. It's OK. I try not to flip out. Sometimes I pass judiciously on the right or on the left if I can.

People drive crazy on this road. I have had people go road-ragey on me before, and last night some chick totally fucking flipped out and tried to force me into a parked car. Really. I don't know why; I can't figure it out. I was doing 35 and then stopped at a stop light. Sue me?
The best part is that after she'd done this, I basically followed her home. Guess who drives on Parker? People who fucking live near there, dumbass. We're neighbors and next time I see you I'm going to cut you the fuck off, asshole. Jeez.
Then this morning I saw a guy on a crotch rocket motorcycle do a wheelie.
A wheelie.
WHAT?
Yeah I know.
I hereby propose that we just abolish Parker. Just shut it down. Blow it up. Get it gone. It's a hazard to humanity. That's my thought of the day.
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03/07/10 02:16 - 28ºF - ID#51121

DRUNK

I TOTALLY SAW (E:ENNKNOT) AT THE ROLLER DERBY.
ALSO I AM TOTALLY DRUNK.
ALSO I HAD A BUNCH OF PEOPEL TELL ME THIS WAS MY BEST GAME IN FOUR YEARS AND I WONDER WHAT KIND OF AN ASSHOLE I'VE BEEN FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS THAT HTIS AWAS SO GREAT. BUT WHATEVER.
ALSO I AM TOO DRUNK OT FIGURE OUT CAPSLOCK. OH WELL.
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03/06/10 12:57 - 23ºF - ID#51116

So cute

image

So my mom knits. She knitted this sweater for Z to match his measurements, which are hardly normal. It has a hood and a kangaroo pocket in front and is super cute and stretchy and comfy.
It came in a small square box.
Chita Rivera fits perfectly into the box. I took the sweater out and gave it to Z, and he put it down and went about his business. But Chita? She went right into that box. And she sat there for like an hour and a half. Z finally put the sweater on for me so I could take a picture for my mom, but Chita needed no prompting. He picked the box up and relocated it to the coffee table by the heat vent and she stayed in it for hours. It is the Best Box.

So I am sending my mom a thank you note on Facebook. The sweater is nice, Mom, but the box? The box is freaking AWESOME.
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02/23/10 11:51 - 30ºF - ID#51068

a couple of small things about fat

1) Tonight we were doing a drill at roller derby practice wherein we had to kind of gallop. (The idea being, run sideways on your skates without the wheels turning-- a very basic agility thing.) I was thumping along doing this, and looked down, and realized that my tiny-ass booty shorts and nude stockings made it look like I had this enormous expanse of bare thigh hanging out. Not very long ago I would have been mortified at the very thought of this, let alone the idea of engaging in an activity wherein said thighs would *move*, but here I was galumphing along, probably jiggling all over the place, and I really didn't care. (There wasn't a whole hell of a lot of jiggling, though, I'll allow my vanity that much-- my thighs are pretty diesel at the moment. Work on your feet 40 hours a week and then skate 10, and get back to me on the jiggling issue.)

2) My work pants haven't been fitting right recently and I look like a schlub. It's winter, and my store isn't really what you'd call "insulated", so I generally wear a pair of stockings, some spandex capri leggings, legwarmers, and possibly booty shorts underneath my work pants. So the odd fit could be explained simply by the fact that my trousers are over at least three, often four layers of clothing. The problem is that they still fit *loosely*, which doesn't make any sense, and worse, is a severe issue since while I'm a bit pear-shaped, I don't really have what you'd properly term an "ass", so clothing doesn't really stay put around my waist. It slides either up or down. And my pants? Down. Not Hot At All.
So out of curiosity I weighed myself tonight and while my scale is hardly anything remotely approaching accurate, or even consistent with itself, it is approximate. And for the first time in several years (since starting derby, in fact) the needle was under 200 pounds.
Given my height, if I'm over 200 pounds my BMI is 30 which makes me officially, medically, obese. (That's 100% the criteria they use, btw, in all the media hullabaloo about the Obesity Epidemic. There's no adjustment for muscle mass or even such trivialities as, you know, gender. A human who is 5'7" and 200 pounds is obese and that's that. A bunch of the Olympic athletes are obese, for the record. It actually has absolutely zero to do with fat. You can be obese with a body fat percentage of like four; it's a meaningless statistic, but there it is-- babies get denied health insurance for it. It's the very definition of bullshit. Oh, am I digressing?)

I know I've lost weight because I've been eating like shit, so I'm not actually happy about that. But I'm also perversely sad that I'm no longer in the "obese" category, and I'm probably going to keep rounding myself up to 200. People double-take and refuse to believe me when I say how much I weigh, and I think it's sort of important that I keep saying it. Because otherwise people really believe that the headless fatties they use to illustrate The Obesity Epidemic are what actual obese people all look like, and what's even funnier is how many people believe that 200 pounds looks like that. Nobody has any idea what obesity actually means, or looks like.

Me, I feel like it's my duty to jiggle those thighs all over town. This is what 200 pounds looks like. Well, 196. And it will crush you like a walnut if you say anything stupid. C'mere. Or don't-- I can catch you. :D
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02/20/10 09:53 - 30ºF - ID#51053

tales from the print lab

So I just clicked on Jim's link over there, which was a horrifically-badly-designed website for a webdesign firm touting itself as "your website's cosmetic surgery team".
And I immediately flashed back to the photos I printed today, which were plastic surgery before-and-afters (and some durings). And I threw up in my mouth a little, which was extra-distressing since I just drank a bunch of absinthe. Yechh.

So yeah, we have this regular customer. He brings in a memory card and hands it to the clerk and says "one each, glossy please, four by six." And the clerk nods and drags him/herself to the back room and pops the card in and knows what's coming. Except last night, the clerk was a goddamn coward, and put it in an envelope and left it for me to do this morning.
And I saw the customer's name on the envelope, and sighed. Should I be mean, and make the new girl do it?
No, I wasn't mean. I just went ahead and did it.
99 photographs of horrid physical deformities, pre-reduction breasts, post-reconstruction breasts, tummies in need of tucking, and most awfully, some truly disturbing bedsores being reconstructed, and in-process photos of surgeries. Those have to be the most disturbing photos I regularly encounter. I have never seen so much of the underside of human skin.

Thursday I had another disturbing photo experience, but it was not so much truly disturbing as it was annoying. So we got like forty rolls of film from an educational organization. I set to work on these. Buncha grade-school kids had been given cameras and apparently nebulous assignments. Mostly they were out-of-focus shots out of bus windows, and pictures of laughing friends, and pictures of ceilings.
Two kids took pictures of flushing toilets.
One kid took a picture of his junk.
Yes he did. Out of focus, indistinct, but definitely the flies of a pair of pants and, yes, sticking out...
"Oh come ON," I yelled out loud when I realized what I was trying to adjust the brightness/contrast on.
And the I thought about it for five seconds, and was furious. I have no info on this educational organization, and don't know who these students are. The kids in the pictures are not babies, but are almost definitely under 18. So what I'm looking at right now? This is child porn.
I took the offending photograph to the acting manager. "What the hell do I do with this?" I asked.
When he stopped laughing, he also said "Oh for crying out loud." He investigated the photo. "That's totally not a penis," he said.
"It totally is!" I said.
"No," he said. "It's probably the tail of his shirt."
We went around in logical circles for a brief timespan, narrowly avoiding an uncomfortable dive into the disturbing thought of which of the two of us had more experience with penises, before I headed it off at the pass.
"The fact that we're having this debate means that it's a problem," I said. "What the hell are we supposed to do?"
Where I work is totally not a corporate kinda place. I asked the district manager once, is there anything we won't print?
Absolutely, he said. Nothing illegal. No animal cruelty. No kid porn. Nothing breaking any laws.
But regular porn, I said.
Well, he said, that's not illegal, so it's not my place to object. I may think it's totally gross, and I don't have to like it, and I suppose you don't have to look at it if it offends you, but one of us has to suck it up and do it because there's no law against it and it's not my place to judge.

But this, then, is against our admittedly very not-strict anti-corporate policy. This is totally some kid's junk. Which nobody is allowed to have a photograph of, not even him.

So we had to put the offending photo into a separate envelope with a note stating which roll it came from, and send it back addressed to the teacher of the class. What an idiot this kid is. Did he think nobody was going to notice? Who does he think develops the photos, robots? I know he probably only gave it like a second's thought because he's a kid and that's what kids do, they don't care, but it still annoyed the shit out of me.

It was pretty funny, though, because whether or not the offending object was really a penis, it was definitely not something the kid should've been proud of.
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02/18/10 11:35 - ID#51041

on the male/female debate

So I was pondering on how unfair it is that it hurts to be a woman. My cramps are better, though, so the outlook is a bit rosier at the moment, and now I'm wondering really how important it is.

Today, somewhat relatedly, I was having a discussion. It started with a discussion on aging, a story of someone who was 90 and healthy as a horse and then dropped dead from a stroke. "Wow," a coworker said, "90," as though that was an unheard-of age.
"My grandmother is 90," I said. "And not as healthy as a horse, but not imminently dying." She is slowly dying, I suppose; her osteoporosis-caused fractures (her spine is telescoping, and her sternum has fractured too) and arthritis have her in so much pain that she has to be heavily medicated, which is making her so confused she had to be put into a nursing home, and it's obvious she can't survive forever like this. A couple of years back the pain was getting to her and she said, "You know, I'm not tired of living, and mentally feel like I could just keep on keeping on, but my body's kind of falling apart and I'm a bit tired of that."
So she probably hasn't real super long for this world and I really ought to write her another letter-- I'm the world's worst correspondent, and I've tried calling her but she doesn't understand the free-long-distance aspect of cellphones and always chats you right off the phone in under three minutes-- but anyway. My point. 90 is old but it's actually pretty common in my family.
This grandmother, who we are discussing here, is a genealogist. She did a ton of research several decades back, knowing that her father came from a notable early New England family, and traced all kinds of family lineages.
The women of my family married at an average age of twenty-five. A few earlier, a lot later, many right around that age. Going back three hundred years. We have marriage data from the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth centuries. Ann Denison was born in 1616, didn't marry until 1646 (do the math! Really!) had six kids (all of whom survived infancy), was giving birth well into her forties, and died in 1712. (She outlived her husband, who was a couple of years younger than her and only made it into his eighties.)
And nobody died young. The menfolk, some of 'em got killed and some of them had health issues. But the women? If they didn't die in childbed, they routinely lived into their late 80s and early 90s.

All of which is a long roundabout way of saying that I am trying super-hard to get plenty of calcium in my diet, and I'm not just doing roller derby for lolz, I'm also trying to get a lot of weight-bearing exercise to maintain bone density. Because man, if I am going to be in this body for sixty or seventy more years, it had better be sturdy. I'll take all the time I can get because I'm so far behind I'll never catch up, but I don't want to be rolling around totally bummed out and unable to get shit done because my damn body's falling apart.

Statistics from both sides of the family hint that as a female, I'll reach 90 easy, but the males in my family? Tend to crap out in their seventies. (Well, Great-Grandpa made it to 102, but Gramps on both sides both conked out before 60, so-- averages are not favorable!)
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02/17/10 08:22 - 29ºF - ID#51032

rough week

Saturday was roller derby bout, which = 6+ hours of being at a skating rink I already spend too much time at, doing various tiring things. (I wasn't skating, so at least there wasn't any real injury potential.) Sunday I had a scrimmage / practice, and then spent a bit over an hour with my team afterward; I was gone from 9:30am until 2pm, and skated for a bit under half that. Monday I worked 9-5, and then went to roller derby practice that night to try out for the travel team squad. That practice went from 8pm until a bit after 11, and was pretty hardcore. I had trouble unwinding afterward, as I sometimes do when I skate, so I didn't get to sleep until after 2am. Then I worked Tuesday 9-5, had to run a few errands, spent the whole day nursing a pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder/back, nearly killed the new girl with my teeth, collapsed into bed for a half-hour nap, then hauled myself out the door and went to practice again.
At practice I had to cope with not only the pinched nerve but also sore muscles from the previous accumulated two days' worth of lactic acid buildup, mostly in my lower back and arms (wtf? why arms?), but a little bit in my thighs as well. (My thighs are pretty fucking diesel if I do say so for myself; I rarely have sore thighs anymore, but it does happen sometimes.) So I couldn't turn my head well at all. Then blisters began forming in my insoles, I don't know why. (I was wearing socks I've skated in many times before, so that shouldn't have happened.) And then I started feeling all kinds of pain in my abs, and my thighs started getting really weak and sore...

By the end of practice I was crying, as I was so tired and so sore and so exhausted that I couldn't understand the directions we were being given in the drills. I don't think many people noticed. It was embarrassing. We skated right up until 10:30, and then I collapsed onto the floor in the middle of the rink in the fetal position hugging my helmet and waiting for the pain to stop.
Finally I realized that my thighs were weak and my abs killing me because .... oh yeah, those are cramps. Oh right, I'm female and it's been 28 days since I last did this.
DUH.
I figure this has been happening monthly for well in excess of 50% of my life by now, and I still don't have the hang of it.
It explained a lot. I'd been feeling like a wuss, but at that realization I dragged myself off the floor, took my skates off, went home, and crawled into a nice long hot bath and took a handful of ibuprofen.

I am full of simmering resentment at the fact that it is intrinsically painful to be female. I mean really!! Isn't sexism bad enough, isn't the systematic oppression of womankind for generations bad enough? No! We must be also stricken with exceedingly painful muscle spasms monthly, for days on end, for the sheer audacity of having been born with vaginas. Bah and fie.

So anyway. Tonight I am hell-bent on getting to bed before 9pm. I need it badly, as I am horridly sleep-deprived. But I had to mobl post with a picture of the sushi we were eating at the Fuji Grill on our way home from work, because, it was awesome. Awesome and just what I needed.
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02/17/10 06:27 - 29ºF - ID#51030 pmobl

Mmmmmm

image
sushi-- "fuji tower" roll at fuji grill on maple

perfect cure for a shitty week
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mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

joe said to grandma
OMG welcome!...

joe said to mike
New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...